St. George Village resident Gene Stelten says his granddaughter, Allie, was the inspiration for A House for Wally and Me, a children’s book that he wrote about the process of building a Habitat for Humanity home. The story is told through the eyes of seven-year-old Allie, who is helping to build a Habitat house in which she and her family will live.
“My granddaughter has always loved helping people in need, so I named the main character in the book after her,” Gene says.
Since the book’s main message is to help children understand the importance of people coming together to work on a common goal of helping others, Gene thought it would be helpful to distribute copies to local school children. He enlisted the help of fellow SGV resident and professional storyteller Mary Apps, and together they read the story to students at local elementary schools.
After reading the book and distributing copies on a recent visit, Gene recalls a little girl who came up to him and asked if she could really take her copy of the book home and keep it. “When I said, ‘Yes, you can,’ she was so excited! I don’t know if she’d ever had a book of her own before,” he says.
In addition to helping children see how much fun it is to work together to help others in need as well as discovering the joys of reading, A House for Wally and Me has another important purpose. All proceeds from sales of the book (which costs $13.95), go to Habitat for Humanity.
Gene, a long-time volunteer for Habitat, wrote the book for free and the illustrator donated her services as well. He says that friends often give him monetary donations, which he uses to purchase copies of the book.
“I buy the books and then Mary and I take them to the schools to give to the students,” he explains. “Habitat gets the money from the sale of the books for its building projects, and the children get a free book of their own and learn about the rewards of helping others.”
If you would like more information about A House for Wally and Me and this worthwhile project, contact Gene Stelten by email at [email protected].